Speaking on ITV’s Peston on Sunday, Matthew Taylor, who was appointed by May to review the gig economy, stopped short of confirming these reports – “[she has been] supportive so far” – and acknowledged the political reality of the situation: “[What] I have to do is produce the best recommendations I can – in the end it’s up to government to decide what they can implement and that puts us back in the domain of politics.”
He spoke about the gig economy as a whole on the rival to The Andrew Marr Show, especially the blurred lines that currently exist in this sphere.
He said: “If you are subject to control – if as an individual in the relationship with the person who’s hiring you, they control your work, they control the basis upon which you work, they control the content of your work – that looks like the kind of relationship where the quid pro quo should be that you respect that person’s employment rights and entitlements.”
A key differentiator in the gig economy, and one that has already caused a bloody nose to Uber and Pimlico Plumbers, is that companies think they are giving workers flexibility, while some of the said workers feel they are being exploited. This, Taylor continued, is down to a “question of control”.
“If you want to control your workers, you will have to respect their rights and provide entitlements, too, but if you really don’t want to control them, that’s fine, then they’ll be self-employed,” he explained. “But [it] look[s] like there are cases at the moment where firms both want control but not to provide those workers with entitlements and rights.
“In the 21st century, a time when we have so much autonomy and choice and we expect control in our lives, we don’t accept the idea of a kind of wage slavery, the idea of people at work having no choice, no voice, no capacity to influence what’s going on around them and I think people feel that doesn’t really fit with the times.”
Taylor’s view seems to fit in with the mood of the times. A survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) accused gig economy employers of “having their cake and eating it”. Two-thirds of the gig economy workers surveyed said the Government needs to step in to ensure basic workers’ rights.
The CIPD’s report, To Gig or Not To Gig: Stories from the modern economy, also threw up a few more interesting statistics: 14% of respondents said they did gig work because they could not find alternative employment; the commonest reason for gig economy work was to increase income (32%); and that gig economy workers are as satisfied with their job as traditional employees (46% compared to 48%).